• Sign in
  • |
  • Sign up

Long-Term Review

2012 BMW 328i: Living on the Inside

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Infiniti cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION
2012 BMW 3 Series

author photo by Basem Wasef

We've still got a bunch of talking points to cover with our long-term 2012 BMW 328i loaner (like road trip dynamics, fuel economy figures and day-to-day usability, to name a few), but first let's talk about the most important interface you'll experience in any car: the interior.

Most new-car buyers size up their options based on curb appeal (i.e., what the neighbors will think of that shiny new ride), but you can't see much sheet metal from behind the driver's seat, and it doesn't take long for an interior to take on a polarizing effect. That ill-placed armrest, for instance, can really grate on you during long drives...but, conversely, just the right seat design can make the miles melt by.

How does the 2012 BMW 328i fare in the crucial area of cabin design?

DNA That's Ergonomically German, Through and Through

Despite its sophisticated technology, the BMW 3-series manages to exude a back-to-basics simplicity that relies on a few core competencies: intuitive ergonomics and stark functionality. Sure, those iDrive menus can get pretty deep, but the way the b328i's interior is laid out places the driver in an ideal ergonomic relationship with the controls. The gear shift lever never leads to awkward arm postures, the seats relate unobtrusively to the dashboard and windshield, and center stack controls seem arranged with thoughtful minimalism in mind. On those merits alone, the 328i manages to tap into BMW's rich heritage while reaching into the future with forward-thinking technology, such as their advanced cell phone connectivity and the usual bells and whistles, like satellite-based traffic reporting and fuel economy coaching software.

On the other hand, our 328i long-termer is not entirely free of shortcomings...

The Missing Package

As mentioned in our first long-term update, we didn't have the luxury of spec'ing out our 328i, which rang in at a not-inconsiderable $46,420. You'd have thought our tester would be luxuriously appointed at that price, but since it wasn't equipped a trim option like Sport ($2,500), Luxury ($2,100), Modern ($2,100) or M Sport ($3,850), the interior was clad in a somewhat bland black-on-black design, with the only visual bright spots being light-colored dashboard trim, which unfortunately is finished in plastic--pretty disappointing stuff at this price point. So while visibility out the greenhouse is clear and the navigation screen offers a wide, pleasant view of the electronics controls, the look and feel of that plastic trim brings down the impression of the interior quite a bit. At least the seats are comfortable, if a bit firm, and the Bimmer's various buttons and dials feel weighty and substantial.

When Function Trumps Form

Perhaps it's because so many automakers have invested in novel interior materials such as carbon fiber and bare aluminum that our long term 328i feels a bit aesthetically underequipped on the inside, but when it comes down to the bottom line, this Bimmer at least delivers strong functionality during day-to-day driving. Everything is where you expect it to be, the split-folding rear seats work with the capacious trunk to enable plenty of cargo hauling space, and that earnest, purposeful design comes through as clearly as it does in earlier and heroically lauded 3-series cars.

In that sense, the 328i achieves the difficult task of maintaining history while moving forward, but on the other hand...well, gosh, that plastic interior trim is really annoying. At the end of the day, there's plenty to like about our 328i, but it's still the little things that get in the way of falling completely in love with everything this German sedan has to offer.

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2014 BMW 3 Series Sedan
New 2014 BMW 3 Series
MSRP $45,925
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2013 BMW 3 Series Sedan
Used 2013 BMW 3 Series
$30,595
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2013 BMW 3 Series Sedan
Used 2013 BMW 3 Series
$29,995
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2015 BMW 3 Series Sedan
New 2015 BMW 3 Series
MSRP $50,850
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Close 
2012 BMW 328i: Living on the Inside